Wrenching Without a Clue!
I’ve never been accused of being able to put the “arse in a cat” as the Newfoundland term for a handyman goes. In fact, my father often said I was the most unhandy person he has ever seen, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to do sled repairs on my own. Besides, how would I possibly keep my fingers from being constantly cut to pieces or be able to make up new curse words that no one has ever thought of yet?
Many of my riding buddies ride hard and any time we head into the backcountry it’s a matter of luck as to who will end up with damage to their sled. When “the law of averages” does kick in and you’re the one unlucky enough to have incurred damage, a process for repair begins.
The first step is to inventory the damage to see what the full extent is. Sometimes there may be more than meets the eye. Be sure to look closely and strip away enough damaged parts to see what lies underneath.
Next deem the parts as either repairable, or a total write off, in which case they have to be replaced. I am typically on a tight budget and being frugal, or as some call it “cheap” can mean the difference of me parking my sled until next season or getting right back on the snow again.
I have realized that some metal and aluminum parts can be repaired by either straightening or welding, when safe, which involves contacting my welder, Shannon Ledrew.
For the items that have to be replaced, I usually look to see if it has to be a brand new part or if a used item will work. The best tool by far for repairs is your smart phone, where the ability to track down used parts is a matter of a few finger stabs of the keyboard. Some common places to look include eBay, Kijji, NLclassifieds, or social media outlets such as Facebook pages like 709 riders buy and sell or local community- based buy and sell sites. Once all the parts are gathered the real fun of the actual repair begins.
The internet truly is a game changer when it comes to sled repairs and there is very little that someone hasn’t already posted online. I can attest that a know nothing, mechanically “declined” knuckle busting person such as myself, would not even think about attempting some things I have done without it. There are numerous online forum sites such as Hard Core Sledders, Snowmobilers.com, Snowest and several brand specific sites such as Dootalk that can be great resources, not to mention, there are some pretty knowledgeable people behind Sledworthy Magazine and Sledcore that definitely know their way around a sled! A word of caution on the forum sites, read through all the responses in the threads before you decide on your course of action as there are sometimes less knowledgeable individuals posting. The most vocal person online doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the most knowledgeable! Get as much information as you can before you proceed.
If you’re a visual type of person, then YouTube may become your new best friend. The video sharing website has numerous examples of sled repairs from start to finish posted including the very common, to the very rare. I usually bring my phone into the garage in case I need to reference something or watch a video during repair.
Another way the phone comes in handy is to take numerous pictures before and during your repair. Also it can be helpful to physically label parts with tape (Green painters tape works great) as you remove them. I have always found that this drastically cuts down on the number of spare parts left over when your repair is complete. Seriously, it does make a great reference particularly if your sled is apart for a long period of time.
When you attempt these repairs for the first time the most important thing to remember is when you get to the end of your mechanical talent, there is nothing wrong to admitting defeat and bringing your sled to a qualified professional. That problem you’re struggling to figure out, your mechanic has probably already seen three times this week. Also, they can fix your missteps and total screw ups that you made in the course of your self-education!
Although there will undoubtedly be some challenges faced in making your own repairs, there are also some great rewards from ‘Wrenching without a clue!’ One is building up your mechanical skill thereby giving you the confidence to attempt other bigger tasks. Another benefit is gaining a better understanding of how the various components of your sled function, which improve trouble shooting abilities and last but not least, saving money for the most important thing, riding!